4 Ways Millennials Unknowingly Increase Their Risk for Vision Loss

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 22-Aug-2016

Millennials – or adults ages 18 to 35 in 2016 – get a lot of kudos for their independent spirits, being stellar multitaskers and savvy digital natives. A handful have even made millions with their startups (Hello Mark Zuckerberg!). But when it comes to taking care of their eyes, not so much.

Unfortunately, the current generation of young adults (like earlier generations of young adults) takes unnecessary risks that can seriously harm their vision. On the upside, these risks are easy to avoid. We asked Key-Whitman Eye Center’s Dallas Optometrist Todd Agnew, O.D. to shed some light on the risks and resolutions.

Want to schedule an eye health exam at Key-Whitman now? Give us a call at (972) 905-9128, or feel free to set up an appointment online here.

Millennials jeopardize their eye health in four key ways

No. 1: Improper wear and care of contact lenses, which can lead to

- Eye infections.

-Corneal ulcers.

-Partial or permanent vision loss.

According to Dr. Agnew, who is the Clinical Director of Optometric Services at Key-Whitman, “The biggest issues I see with contact lenses is related to wear time. Many millennials over wear their contact lenses beyond what is indicated. In other words, we find patients who sleep in contacts for days or weeks on end, where most lenses are indicated to be taken out every night, cleaned and disinfected.”

This risk is dangerous because: “Over wearing contact lenses increases the risk for infection and reduces the potentiality to wear contact lenses for longer periods of time. Eye infections can also lead to corneal ulcers, which can cause a decrease or permanent loss of vision,” Dr. Agnew says.

FACT: According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), eye infections lead to one million doctor visits every year, most of which are attributed to contact lenses. Another form of improper contact lens wear is swimming in contacts, which can also lead to serious eye infections and even blindness.

As Dr. Agnew explains “Most lenses aren’t indicated to wear while swimming, even though a lot of people do – not just millennials. There is an increased risk for eye infections from bacteria found in swimming pools, the main type being pseudomonas. If you get an eye infection tied to pseudomonas, you could lose all of your vision permanently.”

The convenient and easy fix? Opt for properly wearing daily disposable contact lenses or LASIK eye surgery.

No. 2: Not wearing sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection, which can lead to:

- Eye discomfort.

-Early cataracts.

-Keratitis of the cornea.

-Inflammation of the retina.

-Skin cancer of the eyelids and surrounding area.

-Macular degeneration and blindness.

According to a recent survey by Transitions, HALF of millennials surveyed said they didn’t wear sunglasses, whereas Gen Xers (38 percent) and Baby Boomers (28 percent) were less likely to go without sunglasses.

This risk is dangerous because: “Young adults (regardless of the generation) don’t worry about what’s going to happen to their vision 20 or 30 years from now. And most don’t realize sunglasses also protect the thin skin of and around the eyelids. I’m seeing patients in their 50s now with squamous cell skin cancer on their lids, and when I ask if they wore sunglasses when they were young, the answer is almost always no,” Dr. Agnew says.

In addition, without proper UVA/UVB protection, a growing number of today’s millennials will need cataract surgery earlier. The sun’s rays also accelerate macular degeneration, which, if left untreated, can cause permanent vision loss and lead to blindness.

The convenient and easy fix? Purchase and wear sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection of 99 percent or better or add UV protection to your regular glasses.

Learn more about the dangers of UV rays in this earlier story: What You Don't Know About Sunglasses Could Cost You Big Time

No. 3: Not taking dry eye symptoms seriously, which can lead to:

-Eye discomfort.

-Eye infections.

-Corneal ulcers.

-Headaches.

-Vision loss.

According to Dr. Agnew, “The biggest complaints I hear from millennials are concerning dry eye and dry eye allergy problems. A lot of these people work on a computer 8, 10 and even 12 hours a day, add on top of that more screen time and exposure to blue light from their personal devices, so eye strain and dry eye symptoms are inevitable.”

This risk is dangerous because: “We’re using computers and personal devices significantly more than we did even 5 or 10 years ago. Dry eye symptoms are on the rise. Left untreated, visual clarity suffers and the potential for serious eye infections and corneal abrasions can result,” Dr. Agnew says.

The easy, convenient fix? If you’re working long hours, take visual breaks and try to focus on an object faraway every 60 to 90 minutes. Increase your blink rate and use artificial tears to keep eyes more hydrated. If symptoms persist, see a dry eye specialist right away to discuss dry eye treatment options.

4. Opting for convenience over quality eye care, which can lead to:

-Improper diagnosis.

-Exacerbation of eye diseases and conditions.

-Paying double (or more) to address vision problems.

According to Dr. Agnew, “This scenario is something I run into with patients every week. A patient comes into our Dallas office after seeking treatment for an eye condition at an urgent care facility. Their eye issue is either not improving or getting worse.

“The trouble with urgent care – as it relates to eye care – is urgent care facilities typically don’t have the equipment or experience using equipment to properly diagnose eye diseases and conditions. If the patient comes to see us first (unless it’s an emergency – then call 911), we typically get to the root of the problem much faster.”

This risk is dangerous because: Improper diagnosis can worsen and lengthen the duration of vision problems.

“Also, from a cost-effectiveness standpoint, by seeing an experienced eye doctor first, you’ll usually end up paying for fewer doctor’s visits and medications,” Dr. Agnew says.

The easy, convenient fix? Choose an eye health practitioner who offers convenient services. According to Dr. Agnew, Key-Whitman is always looking for new ways to improve convenience for patients. Some of these services include:

-Same-day appointments typically available.

-Extended office hours as early as 7:30 and as late as late as 6pm at our newest location in Mesquite.

-Online appointment scheduling.

-Text appointment confirmations.

-Electronic health records – we can email you a recap of your visit and treatment plan.

-Dilation-free eye exams.

-Valet parking at our Dallas headquarters.

To schedule an appointment with a Key-Whitman eye doctor at Key-Whitman in Dallas, North Dallas, Arlington, South Arlington, Mesquite or Plano, please call (972) 905-9128, or you can set up an appointment online here.

Photo Source: Adobe Stock

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